Dec 29, 2009

Wow! Almost 3 years blogging!

So, yeah, my 3rd blogoversary is coming up in January, and I am busy thinking up things to do to celebrate:

a) I could have a give away

b) I could make a resolution to blog more often and have a giveway

c) I could have a contest and have a giveaway.

I think I'll probably have a giveaway no matter what. Just need to come up with something cool to give away. Fiber? Handspun yarn? Something hand knit or crocheted? Or maybe some commercial yarn (be warned - it's all synthetic) or a creation from that?

While I'm thinking, why don't you think about it and tell me what you think? Then i'll compile the ideas and see what I can come up with!

Dec 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I wish I knew Bailey! I have visions of Celeste in the same snowy bliss next winter!

Dec 22, 2009

Hmmm...

Okay, I'm all for cleaning up the environment, but let's do something about the exhaust from gasoline and diesel engine cars first and put everyone in a vehicle that uses clean energy. THEN I'll think about getting Celeste a job, but I can't really think about eating my pet for Christmas Dinner. Found on Yahoo right here.

Polluting pets: the devastating impact of man's best friend
by Isabelle Toussaint and Jurgen Hecker Isabelle Toussaint And Jurgen Hecker – Sun Dec 20, 3:23 pm ET

"PARIS (AFP) – Man's best friend could be one of the environment's worst enemies, according to a new study which says the carbon pawprint of a pet dog is more than double that of a gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle.

But the revelation in the book "Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living" by New Zealanders Robert and Brenda Vale has angered pet owners who feel they are being singled out as troublemakers.

The Vales, specialists in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington, analysed popular brands of pet food and calculated that a medium-sized dog eats around 164 kilos (360 pounds) of meat and 95 kilos of cereal a year.

Combine the land required to generate its food and a "medium" sized dog has an annual footprint of 0.84 hectares (2.07 acres) -- around twice the 0.41 hectares required by a 4x4 driving 10,000 kilometres (6,200 miles) a year, including energy to build the car.

To confirm the results, the New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett at the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, Britain, to calculate eco-pawprints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same.

"Owning a dog really is quite an extravagance, mainly because of the carbon footprint of meat," Barrett said.

Other animals aren't much better for the environment, the Vales say.

Cats have an eco-footprint of about 0.15 hectares, slightly less than driving a Volkswagen Golf for a year, while two hamsters equates to a plasma television and even the humble goldfish burns energy equivalent to two mobile telephones.

But Reha Huttin, president of France's 30 Million Friends animal rights foundation says the human impact of eliminating pets would be equally devastating.

"Pets are anti-depressants, they help us cope with stress, they are good for the elderly," Huttin told AFP.

"Everyone should work out their own environmental impact. I should be allowed to say that I walk instead of using my car and that I don't eat meat, so why shouldn't I be allowed to have a little cat to alleviate my loneliness?"

Sylvie Comont, proud owner of seven cats and two dogs -- the environmental equivalent of a small fleet of cars -- says defiantly, "Our animals give us so much that I don't feel like a polluter at all.

"I think the love we have for our animals and what they contribute to our lives outweighs the environmental considerations.

"I don't want a life without animals," she told AFP.

And pets' environmental impact is not limited to their carbon footprint, as cats and dogs devastate wildlife, spread disease and pollute waterways, the Vales say.

With a total 7.7 million cats in Britain, more than 188 million wild animals are hunted, killed and eaten by feline predators per year, or an average 25 birds, mammals and frogs per cat, according to figures in the New Scientist.

Likewise, dogs decrease biodiversity in areas they are walked, while their faeces cause high bacterial levels in rivers and streams, making the water unsafe to drink, starving waterways of oxygen and killing aquatic life.

And cat poo can be even more toxic than doggy doo -- owners who flush their litter down the toilet ultimately infect sea otters and other animals with toxoplasma gondii, which causes a killer brain disease.

But despite the apocalyptic visions of domesticated animals' environmental impact, solutions exist, including reducing pets' protein-rich meat intake.

"If pussy is scoffing 'Fancy Feast' -- or some other food made from choice cuts of meat -- then the relative impact is likely to be high," said Robert Vale.

"If, on the other hand, the cat is fed on fish heads and other leftovers from the fishmonger, the impact will be lower."

Other potential positive steps include avoiding walking your dog in wildlife-rich areas and keeping your cat indoors at night when it has a particular thirst for other, smaller animals' blood.

As with buying a car, humans are also encouraged to take the environmental impact of their future possession/companion into account.

But the best way of compensating for that paw or clawprint is to make sure your animal is dual purpose, the Vales urge. Get a hen, which offsets its impact by laying edible eggs, or a rabbit, prepared to make the ultimate environmental sacrifice by ending up on the dinner table.

"Rabbits are good, provided you eat them," said Robert Vale."

Dec 18, 2009

Celeste's own web page

#1 dog site for dogs & bipeds!


Take a little peek! It's still under construction, but Celeste's working on it!

About Kaiser...

I wrote to Donna, the project manager of Building New Hope in Nicaragua, About Kaiser's funds, and what to do to specify that a donation is only for Kaiser,and she wrote me back:

“To answer your question about donating to Kaiser, Kathleen, this can be done by going to our website....www.buildingnewhope.org...and using PayPal or by sending a check to Building New hHope. Either way, just write in that it's for Kaiser. And ony Kaiser will get it. We are very good about this...donations go where they are intended. Always.

Thanks so much for your moral support and excellent info about your Husky!

Donna”


And then I asked for an update on Kaiser. And here it is:

“Sadly, the govt agency that must sign off on allowing animals to leave the country will not do this for Kaiser. He's too sick. He's condemned to this place...to the limited knowledge and resources to make him the beautiful dog that he was just months ago.

But today we may have made a little breakthrough. We shaved off all of his thick fur (he lost much of it to his disase, whatever it is) and we soaked him in chlorohexine, an antiseptic shampoo that is also soothing. We're hoping that this will stop whatever is eating his skin, and if we're lucky, cure it. We have plied this poor dog with all kinds of drug combos and applied all kinds of lotions and creams. We are working without a net. There is no lab available that could exam a biopsy....even a skin scraping. It is not a good situation.

But Kaiser has people here who love him and will not give up on him. Thank you for your concern. We'll keep you posted, Kathleen.

Donna

Dec 16, 2009

Please Help Kaiser



This is Kaiser, a Siberian Husky in Nicaragua, Central America, where Donna Incitti Tabor is trying to treat him for an inexplicable skin disease. Whatever it is, it's taking him down little by little every day. The thought of euthanisizing this sweet and beautiful animal is painful, but the people at the kennel in Casa Lupita realize that it soon could be their only humane option for a dog that they all have come to love..

Kaiser arrived through less than pleasant circumstances. Apparently he was purchased by a young man who wanted a tough-looking dog, and Kaiser fit the bill. But things changed when the thick fur on his legs and underside of Kaiser's body fell out. Then as his bare skin became infected and inflamed, he stopped being a pet and became a liability, and no medical care or attention was given to him.

If there's a positive aspect to this pathetic situation, Kaiser's owner is a neighbor of Jasson Fuguera, a newly-graduated veterinarian who volunteers at the Casa Lupita animal clinic.

When one of Kaiser's family members threatened to kill him if he couldn't be cured, Jasson brought him to Casa Lupita to care for him every day and to keep him safe from a disappointed family. Different treatments and remedies are tested on Kaiser, But it's all second-guessing since no one can say exactly what the dog's illness is.

They are about to include a more experienced veterinarian in Managua in a treament plan. Dr. Diaz Fonseca feels this may be the same skin affliction present in another dog that he once treated successfully. He is willing to try to save Kaiser.

Though Dr. Diaz is giving a most generous discount for treatment, it will be a long process.... not days or weeks, but months. It will include a skin biopsy, lab work, expensive medication, and daily bathing. And it will eventually mean daily trips from Granada to Managua with Kaiser.

They are now putting out the word to all of you fantastic readers and animal lovers, who may be able to help save Kaiser. He is already fortunate to have reached the heart of Valarie Findlay, a Canadian who has made a start-up donation that will allow treatment to begin. She also intends to adopt Kaiser and have him flown to Canada to join her and her family of four rescue dogs. But first, he must be substantially cured to pass the muster at customs. The full treatment will require the help of many...not just Valarie.

The following is a photo of Kaiser as he was a few days ago. Please help change this to a happy, healthy dog who can one day romp freely in a Canadian snowfall. If at all possible, please donate to Building New Hope through PayPal or by mailing a check to our Pittsburgh office at:
BUILDING NEW HOPE
106 Overton Lane
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Dec 13, 2009

Merry Christmas to me!

In anticipation of the coming hot, snowless, and mostly un-celebrated Christmas holiday, I treated myself to a couple of drug-and-alcohol free indulgences for the holidays with this:


and this:


The Gypsy batts are still kicking my behind, too. This is almost 500 yards of fingering weight Gypsy, with about 2 more ounces to go...




I think I'll have to find a nice project to make with it, but CRAP! I think I must be the slowest spindler in the world. Maybe I'll be done with Gyspy by the New Year...

Dec 9, 2009

Navajo plying video

I've always wondered about navajo plying. I've heard about it, read about it, and wondered about it, but never have seen anyone actually do it. I knew the principles but not the mechanics. Here, finally, is a pretty clear illustration of nevajo plying on a spinning wheel:



Since I don't have my wheel with me, I'll have to fiddle around with a spindle to see what I can figure out. I watched other videos that show navajo plying with a drop spindle, and all of them seemed very tedious and labor intensive. So much stopping the spindle, sticking it in an armpit, hooking it and putting the strand around the shaft...in short, nothing easy or smooth about it. If it's really that difficult, I think I'll just stick to my regular plying technique and bypass the navajo method.

Dec 8, 2009

Reading list for 2010

Thinking ahead, and dreaming about going back to the land of less traffic, accessable libraries and books, open spaces and places to explore with Celeste and O, I am building my "Must Read" list for 2010:

1. The Sable Queen(From the Redwall series, by Brian Jacques)
2. Doomwyte (From the Redwall series, by Brian Jacques)
3. All the Redwall series. (I bought some for my daughter and neices, who seemed to enjoy them.)
4. Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood
5. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
6. Pirate Latitudes, by Michael Crichton
7. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
8. The Sookie Stackhouse Series, by Charlaine Harris
9. Witch And Wizard, by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
10. New York, by Edward Rutherford

That's it, so far. I'll be adding to the list after the first of the year, I'm sure. What's on your list?

Dec 2, 2009

A very pleasant surprise

This week has been very good for me so far. First, I have 4 really happy, enthusiastic classes to teach! The language levels range from beginner to higher intermediate, but - maybe because it's close to Christmas, I don't know - they are all great, so far. I can walk into class and see smiles on faces, ready to participate and seemingly happy to be there. Amazing! It could be that I finally have managed to put together interesting classes, or maybe these are just exceptional students. Whatever it is, I hope it continues!

Second, I've been visited right here on this blog by none other than Randolph, the super sleuth Labrador Retriever of the canine mystery, A Dog About Town. What a wonderful surprise to read his politely Labradorian comment, and receive a subsequent e-mail from him! Wow! I read A Dog About Town a couple of years ago. It was a fun and fast-paced read, and (I am happy to say) was one that I could pass on to my nieces without getting the hairy eyeball from their mother.



If you are in the mood for a short, fun read, check out A Dog About Town, written by J. F. Englert, and Randolph. I think you'll like it!

Nov 30, 2009

A rose is a rose...

I put on my favorite perfume today, before I went to work - Anais Anais. It smells of roses, but not like my grandmother's rose scent. This is a decidedly different rose. All the same, after riding through the city and exiting the bus between others, I arrived at work smelling like what I was - an exhausted rose. Make that vehicle exhaust. My Anais Anais is still with me, but so is a little exhaust. Hmm. It's almost impossible to escape the exhaust and exhaustion in this city. One seems to go hand in hand with the other.

I've been spinning, also. I've finished 4 ounces of Gypsy (superwash merino/sari silk/sparkles) and it's looking pretty good! I have about 400 yards of fingering weight, and still have another 4 ounces to go. It's moving pretty fast, and I should be finished plying the last of the latest spindle-full tomorrow. I managed to spill a glug of Coke on one spindle, so the soaking will be a welcome part of the processing and finishing. Sheesh! How clutzy can I be???

(Note to self: Coke is off-limits while using the computer AND while spindling.)

Celeste has sensed a change in attitude towards her since she's almost finished shedding her winter duds. She's now clean and pretty, and was actually invited to take a nap on the bed with O this weekend. It helped her little prima donna attitude bounce back, and when she had to vacate the bed so I could lie down, she made a face at me and retired to her own plushy-but-hairy bed.

I spent Thanksgiving in a funk for a couple of reasons. One - I had to work. Two - nobody celebrates Thankgiving here, so that was kind of bumsville for me. Three - Christmas will most likely be the same for me. Christmas here is so commercial it's ridiculous. You thought it was bad in the US, didn't you? Well, multiply that by 5 and add all your friends and relatives, godchildren, neighbors, and every Tom, Dick, & Harry who gets on the bus begging, and you've got the makings of a depressing holiday. And there's not even the remotest chance of a white Christmas here. Hmmmm....

On Friday, I got on the bus, and a young man followed me on. He gave us God's blessings, and began to talk about how he had just 5 hours earlier been released from prison. In order to prevent him from returning to his criminal ways, everyone on the bus was to pay him for his performance...and he took out a long handled tablespoon, which he pushed up his nose. I guess that trick is too common here in Lima, because he left the bus without much more than 50 centimos. He laid a curse on us all before he left. Luckily we all know Moises, from the previous post, who can break the curse and we'll all come out smelling like roses...exhausted roses, but roses all the same.

Nov 22, 2009

..and as if that weren't enough...

Folowing up on my last post about curanderos, there's this.

According to the article, there are 3 types of curanderos. Reading the definitions, it would appear that most of the people practicing around where I live are of the second type, those who are taught their skill, e.i. "These usually read coca leaves, and perform other rituals such as “pasar cuy” and “pasar huevo,” where the guinea pig, or egg, is gently rubbed over the person’s body in order to remove negative energy. The guinea pig is then killed, or the egg cracked open, to see what illness the person was suffering from. There are many of these all over Peru, and while some practice their trade well, others don’t."

I went back to Moisés, who's business card appears in the first photo of my last post. He claims to practice black magic, so I asked him what exactly that meant. He let me know that, for a modest fee, he will cast a spell on someone for the client. The spell usually involves causing some kind of illness to the target. This spell is performed there in his booth at the feria, then a "spirit helper", one of his messengers, delivers the notice of the spell casting to both the client and the target. Depending upon the strength of the beliefs of the target and the client, one will feel satisfied that vengence has been dealt, and the other may fall into the sick bed until payment has been made to another curandero to undo the spell and stop the illness.

This kind of thing seems to go against the stuff I've heard in talking to the witches in the US, but I don't know anyone who actually practices black magic, except now for Moisés.

And then there's this, which almost put me off eating at Doña Maria's Anticucharía a few blocks away. Hmm...not my idea of the best type of seasoning.

It seems like a lot of people in Lima believe in brujería, or there wouldn't be a curandero on every street corner. But belief in black magic and voodoo is strongest in the provinces of the north and the jungle. O told me that his mother is big believer in voodoo and the black arts, and she is scared to death of it. When she was younger, she heard through the grapevine that her cousin, who was called a witch by people in her neighborhood, had put a spell on her. O's mother was sick with headaches, vomiting, and general anxiety and weakness for weeks, until her husband finally called another witch doctor to break the spell by rubbing her forehead with a black guinea pig, then killing it and burning the entrails. Within a few hours she had completely recovered. Another Hmmmm...

What do YOU think?

Nov 19, 2009

Curandero...healer or quack?

(click to enlarge)
Several years ago, I got into Lynn V. Andrews's books (the Medicine Woman series.) I still enjoy them, but the author claims that all these stories are true. Maybe they are, amazing as they seem, but as I've been traveling around Latin America lately, I've come across some of the kinds of people she mentions in her books. Not all of them seem to be as genuine as she claims.

"Curandero" is one of the terms she uses often in her stories. In Spanish, the definition of curandero" is healer or quack. Quack is further clarified with the phrase false doctor. And you know what? There are many curanderos and curanderas who practice their trade right around where I live. In the downtown area, curanderos are a dime a dozen. They advertise a number of practices that make me go HMMMMM... For example:

(Click to enlarge)
"Read your luck with coca leaves, playing cards, plumb bob (I think this must be like a pendulum), candle, and magnet...cure fear, diagnosis of illnesses with black guinea pig, and cure unknown diseases. All is not lost. Find the solution to your problems right here."
You can see some of the things that are used if you enlarge the photo.

(click to biggify)
Here's another shot of a curandera's booth. She wouldn't let me photograph her, but the booth itself was fine. La Señora Agusta cures fear with an egg, detects disease with a guinea pig, cleans away the bad vibes, and makes payment to the Sacred earth on your behalf for success in work, health, money, and love. And she has lots of goodies for sale there in her booth for do-it-yourselfers.

Nov 16, 2009

Talk to the Hand, Baby

Celeste did a very doggish thing yesterday. O took her to the park to run, and she ran right into some really disgusting, stinky, scummy stuff that just thrilled the living daylights out of her. So she did what every self-respecting dog would do.

She rolled in it, from head to tail. I believe it is called "sidewalk paté" Today, she doesn't understand why she can't just up to kiss me, why she doesn't get invited to play, why she isn't welcomed onto my lap. Whenever she comes near, she gets the "talk to the hand, baby" gesture. How well she knows it. About every time she shed her coat, she gets to "talk to the hand."

Please, Celeste, don't come close. Especially not under the desk while I'm using the computer. The aroma of your perfume is overpowering and makes me gag. Especially not near the bed, where I might accidentally roll over and my nose might find the spot you rubbed on. Especially NOT IN MY CAR SEAT, so I don't have to wear your dog cologne to work.

Celeste, sweet Celeste, I promise that before I get my shower, you'll get yours. In the meantime...Talk to the hand, baby.

Nov 15, 2009

Rambling on Sunday Afternoon

Holy cow! It's been a while since I posted...I didn't realize so much time had passed. I've been spinning on 8 ounces of Farm Witch's beautiful fiber, Gypsy - a gorgeous plum, turquoise, gold, and blue combination, with sparkles and sari silk strands carded in. I've got almost 4 ounces spun now, with half of that plied and skeined. Where are the pictures you ask? Pictures are not taken because O has the camera stashed in his backpack somewhere. It makes me go GRRRrrr when I can't grab the camera and snap some photos of my work, but these days, it's because he's snapping photos of HIS work. Fair is fair, I suppose, so I can't get too growly about it.

I've been reading a little bit about this phenomenon called NaNoWriMo, or some such thing...National Novel Writing Month? It's everywhere! Are that many people really trying their hand at writing a novel? Holy crap! Where do they find their inspiration? One such writer is Michelle, over at The Spiral Path. Phenomenal! Check out her blog! Writing so many words every day would become a serious CHORE for me, unless I was incredibly inspired. I congratulate each one of the writers, because even though the month is only half over, most of them are still writing! I would have thrown my pen down a week ago, I'm afraid. My inspiration comes in spurts - and very SPARCE spurts at that. Go novel writers! I hope you get published!

Nov 3, 2009

An Offering to the House Goddess

Celeste was feeling kind of bad while I was on vacation. She got a boo-boo from playing with some street dogs. The vet said there was fungus amung us (heh, couldn't resist...) so he gave her a funky new 'do and a paint job.



but now she's all better, and her 'do isn't as funky-looking as before.

The dark spot next to her ear is all that's left of her owie.

To make sure that she doesn't get another boo-boo in the future,

Celeste makes regular offerings of her very own dog food to the house goddess. Or maybe these are bread crumbs left on the path to the kitchen, so nobody gets lost on the way to the fridge.

Nov 1, 2009

The plan is coming together...slowly.

A week's gone by and I still have this head cold. It's in it's final phase, but what a pain in the rear - ...err... - head it's been. Classes have started once again and I have 6 full days of classes, from the very beginning in Basic 1 to Intermediate 3. Almost all of my students this time seem to be good ones. There are a few that will make me tired, but most of them seem to be enthusiastic and ready to participate and learn. At least for now.


I've been spinning, yes, and finally finished the Ginger & Plum fiber, plus two skeinlettes of complimenting orange yarn and purple yarn. Just enough of each to do toes and heels in socks, or a border of mostly solid color. So, I'm happy with that. I also started another set of batts in Enchanted Knoll Farm's "Gypsy". This yarn will be more along the worsted weight (I hope), but I have no real project in mind for it right now. I thought I did when I started spinning, but I've already got one spindle filled and all my great ideas have evaporated. Now, I guess I'll just see what it wants to become.


The most exciting news for me is that we've got a buyer for the apartment next spring. He's already made his offer, and we've accepted it. He'll give us our asking price and make a substantial down payment, then take over the remaining payments. He'll take possession of the apartment in May next year, so that will give me time to send things home to the farm, and repaint, and replace things as needed. Yeay! Maybe by that time, I'll have all of Celeste's fuzz trapped and under control. But, anyway, things do seem to be going according to plan.

O is off to see about a scholarship for a post grad program at the University of Northern Colorado - possibly. You never really know about things down here in Peru. They seem to go great guns, and then somebody stops for a beer, and things go off track for a few...well, ummm...months. We'll see how it all goes. Here's O (the tallest tree in this little orchard) and his compañeros, having left the track already, chowing down. Beer to come.

Oct 22, 2009

The Wild One-Oh-Four

A ride to work on the city bus is always a unique experience, but a ride on the 104 is a whole different ball game. I usually ride the Linea 48, a safe and more comfortable bus...but the 48 stops for 15 seconds and waits for no latecomer. So yesterday, I ended up taking the 104.

The 104 runs older buses; usually old Bluebird school buses that may or may not have the seats nailed down, rattle like mad, and the drivers seem to be convinced that with open windows and tremendous speed, even the oldest heavily-loaded vehicle might be coaxed into sprouting wings. There are times when not only the passengers and seat bottoms are launched from their usual places inside the bus, but the bus may also go airborne at various times of the day.

There are no shock absorbers on these buses and, I think because of that, you can always tell when the 104 is approaching from the racket of the rattling body, doors and windows. Step aboard and let your hair down...it'll be standing on end in just a few moments! Don't forget to get a good grip on something before take-off.

Linea 48 attracts a higher paid clientele, and due to that, it also attracts salespeople and performers of a higher caliber...or at least with higher expectations. The 48 often has traveling musicians who perform and sell their cds on the bus. The salespeople don't limit themselves to selling candies - they have 30 cent pens, sewing kits, and books. The real talent - the guys who push the screwdrivers up their noses - also finds itself on board the Linea 48.

ON the other hand, the 104 gets the candy sellers, the kids who sing through their mom's comb and a Kleenex tissue, the guy who can't play a guitar so he beats out a rhythm on a seat back with a coin or his wedding ring while singing off key, and the woman who rented her neighbor's baby to beg for money. The good thing is that they don't stay long - it's very hard for an off-key singer to be heard over the rattle of the 104 body panels, no matter how hard he pounds on the seat or the door frame. And women carrying rented babies have a hard time staying upright while the bus is airborne. So usually the beggars and the performers jump on, take a quick turn up and down the aisle, and jump back off. Knitting on board is almost impossible because of the bone-jarring, stitch scattering ride, but most people don't notice. They're usually totally occupied with hanging onto the OMG bars in front of them or over head.

This morning, while on my way home after my morning class, a man got on the bus to beg for money. As he started his speech, the driver said, "Hazlo en breve, amigo. No tendres mucho tiempo de hablar." (Make it brief, buddy. You won't have much time to talk.) No sooner did he get those words out of his mouth, when the bus lurched forward and we launched, rattling off down Abancay Avenue. The beggar seemed to be putting a lot of effort into his speech, but nobody could hear a word he said. Once we were airborne, he had no choice but to cut it short and get off at the nearest landing pad...errr...bus stop.

Small blessings in disguise.

Oct 18, 2009

The Men's Room

Public bathrooms here in Peru are not desirable places. Practically all of them reek of bodily waste. It's expected to be so here, but honestly, it disgusts me. I assumed (erroneously) that it was from the fact that the Peruvian sewer system is not set up to handle toilet paper, so the used paper is dropped into a trash can next to the toilet. Most of the time, it is dropped into the trash can...sometimes the aim is bad, and it lands on the floor...also a disgusting fact about Peruvian public bathrooms.

So when my own bathroom began to reek of urine, I freaked out. I'm not one of those people who just assume that the bathroom will stink no matter what. And after a little investigation and sniffing things out (literally) I discovered that not everyone has the same bathroom habits and expectations that I do - and that someone is a man that lives in this apartment. I'll leave it to you to figure out what man I'm talking about, but his first initial is O. And worse, after his friends and family members come over, the bathroom absolutely smells like a ketchpen after branding.

We've had several discussions about the choice of taking aim at the toilet, and actually having a good sit-down, and each time, he assured me that it wasn't HIM who missed the toilet. Well, guess what - there are only two of us living in this apartment, and I don't depend on my ability to make a good shot at the toilet. We talked about it today, again, and no headway was made. I just cleaned it at 11 am, and it already smells like somebody missed and shot the floor instead. Which he did. The fact is that "real" men are expectd to take aim on foot, and not shoot from close-up.

He has a need to be a "real" man. Hmm...smells like the men's room in here.

of eye glasses and fiber...

The inevitable happened yesterday: I got glasses...again. Yes, I admit it - I have the over 40 eye syndrome. When I last went to the eye doctor, I had just turned 44, and he told me that "everybody goes through this after they turn 40." So I got glasses. And almost never wore them. Then I came to Peru, went camping, and lost my glasses, but didn't realize it till several weeks later. I talked to O about it, but he was no help. So I squinted along, fumbling through things, until July, when I really couldn't see something that O was trying to point out to me. He apparently thought I was joking way back there 3 years ago when I told him that I lost my specs in Canta. We talked about going to the eye doctor (one of his friends is an optometrist), then he promptly put it off until I came back from vacation. I returned and fell over his bag that he left in the middle of the living room. (I'm not really THAT blind, it was dark, though, and I wasn't expecting him to drop his briefcase right there.) He noticed then, and decided that MAYBE I really did need glasses. Then other things happened and my eyes were put on the back burner until this weekend, when I THREW THE FIT FROM HELL and we went to the eye doctor and then to the optical district in Lima Centro.

As it turns out, the vendadora de lentes has a contract with the optometrist around the corner, and the eye exam was free. Then the salesgal did her best to sell me frames that were de moda (in style). She managed to do that, but not before O did some squabbling with her about price. We finally left there with a pair of fashionable glasses, complete with proper prescription lenses, for 80 nuevos soles, about $30 US. Not bad! (wish I'd have had them about 3 years earlier.)

In other news, I've finished spinning 550 yards of fingering weight yarn of Plum & Ginger merino/silk/sparkly fiber, and it's hanging out the laundry room window. Pictures when it's totally dry...maybe tomorrow!

Oct 14, 2009

I Owe My Life to My Shoes

Huh. Well, I haven't had much to write in the last little while. There's not too much going on here, now that I'm back from vacation. It's always a little tough to accept the fact that my free time is gone and I'm back to the grindstone. This month I've got 2 regular classes that are 2 hours long, and a third that is 4 hours long. So far, things are going along pretty well!

One thing that I was able to do while I was in the States was to get clothes that fit me. Thank goodness! Here in Peru, the average woman is about 5 inches shorter than I am, so legs and sleeves on clothes are always way to short. Anyway, I got some slacks that fit, some blouses that fit, and some shoes that fit. YEAY! Amazingly, it was the shoe purchase that turned out to make the biggest difference in everything I've done so far.

The shoes are just black lace-up oxfords. Flats. O laughed when he saw them, and everyone at work has looked at them with a smirk or a grimace on their faces. But I love them. Wearing these shoes has resulted in no more leg and foot pain, a lot less swelling in my legs and feet, and a totally happier me! I contribute the fact that my classes are going so well to the fact that I have a better outlook on life, since I have no more pain. Thanks to plain old black leather oxford shoes. No, they're not stylish, but they support my feet and are totally comfortable. I can climb up to the 8th floor and back down without crying. I also got a brown pair of Maryjanes with a thick rubber sole and wide toe - no heel to speak of, either. Yes, they look like little girl shoes in a large size, but I can wear them all day without tears!

I look at the shoes that the women around me are wearing and wonder who thought up such creative torture devices. Watching women totter around on impossible thin and high stiletto heels makes my legs ache. And those sharp-pointed toes...I can imagine my own toes squashed into a shoe like that - brings a tear to my eyes! The cruelest thing about this form of torture is that women have been brain-washed into thinking that these are desireable things to wear and will consciously force themselves to wear them - all in the name of fashion. Old women struggle along painfully in dangerously high-heeled shoes, mincing along unsteadily beside their younger daughters, nieces, and friends who are also tippy-toeing down the sidewalk in similar toe-mashing, leg cramping, ankle twisting foot killers. Never again will I wear anything like that (fingers crossed.)

My last shoe purchase was in Trujillo last weekend. Lily invited me to go shoe shopping, since Trujillo is the shoe capital of Peru. She bought stiletto heeled sandals, open-toed high heels, and a pair of platform tennis shoes. I bought myself one pair of men's high-topped leather hiking boots.

Lily sighed and rolled her eyes. She's always considered me to be a complete loss when it comes to following fashion trends. I say thank God for black leather oxfords with no heel.

Oct 5, 2009

Peeee-uuuuuuuuu!

Not much happening here, except some spinning and Celeste's eau d'rot. She rolled in something dead or rotten. She reeks and doesn't get what the big deal is. O had her at the park when she discovered whatever it was, and took a nosedive into it. Then, heh, he put her in the car and brought her home. It's just a short ride, but the smell was nearly overwhelming for him. He came into the house a little cranky and disillusioned with his dog, once again. This time wasn't as bad as the time that she ate poop, but it still made him gag.

It's days like this when I wish we had a backyard so Celeste could spend her days outside, letting the aroma fade away.

Sep 30, 2009

Sep 28, 2009

from fresh air and open range...

...to car exhaust and exhaustive traffic.

I'm back from vacation. It was kind of a working vacation. After the renters left my house (after they stopped paying rent and water and trash pick-up and I evicted them), I found out that I had to repair the back yard and have sod laid, and clean up what seemed like a year's worth of trash in the house, and wash and paint the walls and ceilings to get the odor out of the house. The little Chinese Elm tree in the back is struggling after a dog took all the bark off it. I wonder if it will survive. The landscaping & sod guys said that if I trim out the dead stuff and cut back the live branches some, it would probably make it, so I did. I hope it makes it. And the majority of my roses survived, too, inspite of a dog digging them up and chewing them up. That makes me very happy. I hope the sod has a chance to form a root system before it freezes. I have the impression that the dog's people just threw him out in the backyard and forgot about him, so he began to chew up everything he found. Celeste tells me that dogs do that when they feel abandoned and lonely.

After working on it a bit, I went to talk to a property manager about renting it again, and after speaking with that gentleman, I decided against renting at all. It seems that there are MANY renters that totally trash a home just because they can. So no more renters for me. I was totally dissillusioned and I felt violated when I saw the state of my home after those people were through with it. My house will just be closed up until I return next year. I had a huge rant all typed out about these particular people, but thought better of it just now and deleted it.

Anyway.

Poor Celeste has a boo-boo. O found a couple of hot spots on her head while I was gone, freaked out (luckily), and took her to the vet. The vet said it was fungus, shaved her head and applied some meds. She looks like a punk rocker, with pink and purple colors on her reverse mohawk haircut.

And my little Sunny left us, too. He was my basset hound that stayed on the farm. I'd tried to take him with me 2 or 3 times to Peru, but each time, the weather was too cold or too hot, and the airline wouldn't let him travel. So he waited for me on the farm. This month he traveled with me every day from the farm to the house in Cheyenne and back, supervising and playing and having a good time. I noticed that he wasn't dancing anymore, and he didn't seem to be the same happy little guy he had always been before, but still, every morning he charged to the house and waited at the car till it was time to go up to Cheyenne and work. Until he began to decline to eat. I took him to the vet and she found a mass in his stomach that had closed off the intestines. She also said he had "messy lungs", and thought that it might be cancer, from whatever caused it in his stomach, that was spreading to the lungs. So the decision was to put him down before he had much more difficulty or pain. It was the right thing to do, but it hurt to do it.

Sunny touched so many lives in his 8 years. The neighbors in Cheyenne knew him and loved him. He worked periodically at Triangle Cross Ranch with disabled people, who loved him, too. He taught us to love forever and forgive quickly and to let go of grudges. He even loved someone who didn't particularly care for him, ignored him, and called him ugly names.

I'm glad he waited for me to come home before he had to go. I'm thankful that we had some good times together this month, too. I'm glad that I was able to notice that something was really wrong and make that decision before he was in too much pain. I still cry when I think about him being gone.

After I'm done being sad about Sunny, I'll write a little more about my vacation. Just now, though, I need to go deal with my tears.

Aug 25, 2009

frustrations

Okay. I just spent the last month teaching 100 students pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and colloquialisms in the English language. Yesterday, I asked each of them if they had done their homework, and fully HALF of them said, "No teacha, I ause yeseday," (No teacher, I was absent yesterday.)

So, why go to all the trouble to present this stuff, if they are so willing to throw it aside when they have the opportunity to use it in a more authentic way than a contrived dialogue written in their textbooks? Never mind the fact that most of them WERE NOT absent - why NOT add what they learn to their repertoir, rather than stick with the "I ause yeseday"? What better way to personalize and make an authentic conversation than to talk about something real for them?

Today they have their final written exam, tomorrow they have to present a project in spoken and written form, and on Thursday, they have an oral exam in which they have to make use of all the language they have in their lessons. "I ause yeseday" gives me no confidence at all that they have learned or have tried to learn anything. I guess I'll see.

I've been told by the administration that I'm too demanding and that I expect way too much from my students. I wonder if that's bad. I expect them to be motivated and study. I expect them to come to class. I expect them to do their homework. I absolutely expect them to respond in some way, be it a correct answer, an "I don't know," or even "I don't really care." At the end of the cycle, many of them try to wheedle a better grade out of me by whining and tearing up or batting their eyes and flirting with me. Some try to intimidate me into raising their grades. Still others use guilt trips and head games, and one even resorted to the traditional Peruvian way - bribery.

I don't remember school or the few college classes I took being anything remotely like this. Maybe all those years working for the Air Force made my world too sheltered and structured. What ever happened to integrity, responsibility, and impeccability? Actually, I'm not that hard of a person. If I can see some TRY in a student, I'm willing to give him or her the benefit of the doubt. But to spend the cycle piddling around, talking about boyfriends, trying to sleep in class, or just not coming, and THEN try to squeeze extra points out of me? Sorry baby, I'm not that easy.

Aug 20, 2009

New spindle!

Here's my new spindle from ButterflyGirlDesigns. It's beautiful! Now I can get on with spinning the Plum and Ginger batts from ArtemisArtemis!

Aug 18, 2009

a bunch of random late night stuff

1. I'm still working on the knitted roving bag. I think it will felt very nicely, since it seems to be felting right here in my hands.

2. Still spinning Waltzing Matilda. Gads, lambkins can be spun for frickin' EVER and still have a pile of roving left in the bag.

3. Still spinning on Rough Cut Diamonds...less than 2 ounces of the original 6 to go. Hoping for enough to make some nice long socks.

4. Still spinning on ArtemisArtemis Ginger and Plum...kinda held up while waiting for my new Butterfly Girl spindle to come. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. WHERE IS IT??? I've got the mailman traps baited and set out, but haven't caught anything yet.

5. Have 8 ounces of beautifully rustic rambouillet roving from Fat Cat Knits to spin up into stockings, if I ever get finished with what I've got on the spindles already.

6. Celeste has a beautiful cushy new bed and where does she sleep whenever possible? (Hint: NOT in her own bed.)

7. No Bubys or Butsys in my classes this month. Only 7 Luises, 5 Maricruzes, 4 Jorges, a whopping 15 Joses, but just 1 Miguel. After calling on Jose 1, Jose 2, Jose 3,4,5, and 6, I'd give my eye teeth for just one Livinton or Wasinton. I'd even settle for a Dooby or a Dohboy, just to break up the monotony. (They're one's in someone else's class. Such a pity.)

Aug 12, 2009

Just quickly...

Damn this day job! It interferes so much with my REAL life, my fiber life. Between a correspondence course on line, a presentation and class observation with another instructor, getting evaluated, and a full day of teaching, I'm not getting the proper quality time with my projects. Knitting with the mermaid blue/green/purple roving has become so addicting; just watching those gorgeous colors slip through my finger is mesmerizing. It's been quite an interesting experiment so far. I'm not advancing as fast as I'd like, partially due to a little vegetable matter (VM) that's cropping up as I split the roving and draft it out to the thickness that I want for knitting. And partially due to the fact that I spend a lot of time just staring at the colors and imagining that I'm in a clean, clear river in the mountains.

Septimus Heap is over for now. Wah. It was a fast and fun read, but now I have to wait to get the next volume until I go visiting Barnes & Noble when I go home next month. The SH series is a result of the Harry Potter craze, but these books are a little more gentle and less violent. Not that there's a lack of danger and adventure - there is plenty - but it's handled in a way that's more suited for a younger reader. So it focuses a little more on the fun aspect of the magical imagination than Harry Potter does. Things also take place outside of the walls of the castle, in the forest, in the Marsh, in the Badlands, and in the Ramblings, and things seem a little more verdant and fresh, and not so dark. Plus the characters are kind of different. The story is a little less sophisticated than Harry Potter, and so are the characters. I definitely recommend The Septimus Heap series if you want a fun, quick read! The good thing is that there doesn't seem to be an end to the series looming on the horizon.

And, speaking of going home, I really cannot wait to go! It's been 2 years since I've had a vacation, and I'm ready. It's been 2 years since I've spent much time at all out of the smog and car exhaust. I need a few lungfuls of clean country air, even if it's flavored with eau d' dairy cow, goat, or alpaca. Plus, I need some clothes. My work clothes are getting worn out and I seem to be too big to be able to find affordable clothing and footwear here. My tennis shoes have several holes in them now and the soles are so smooth that I get no traction at all with them.

*Sigh* It's time to get ready for work again. See you later.

Aug 10, 2009

a little progress

I've never been able to stick to just one project at a time. I've been playing with the rovings bag, knitting little here and a little there. I've also been spinning on two sets of batts, and I've got a crochet project in the works, too. Project ho, here. And, I've been reading. I'm in the middle of the second volume of the Septimus Heap series, Flyte. I know, it's a kid's book, but it's also a LOT of fun. And I like fun with no strings attached. A kid's book - just what I need for these gray, damp and fungusy, dreary winter days!

So here are some photos of the experiment of knitting with roving, so far (and a little peek at Flyte.) I like it, but I need to devote a little more time to it. This is how it's going so far:

The mermaid roving.

Aug 3, 2009

knitting with roving

Well, today's my last day of the Independence holiday. As usual, I've been drop-kicked by a bug too small to see. A head cold. Luckily, today is the first day in a week that I've felt half-decent. I've had WAAAY to much caffeine and have too much energy for my own good. I've had a ton of projects bouncing around in my head, but so far, all I've managed to do is get groceries, get some laundry washing, and take the latest spinning project down from the drying rack and bag it up.

So I have some really gorgeous wool roving - mermaidy colors in blues and greens and purples - that I've been working with. There's a LOT of it and I'm kind of spun out on it for the time being. And I've been, of course, reading a lot on Ravelry and getting a hankering to felt something. I want to make a bag with this roving, but I'm so sick of spinning it that I've decided to go with just knitting the roving. I've pulled some down to pencil roving size, more or less, and begun to knit it on US size 11 straight needles. They're the biggest needles I've got for now. It's going surprizingly well! I had some misgivings about it at first, envisioning the roving falling apart, but this fiber still has a little sheep grease in it, I think, and it's kind of sticky. That makes it a little hard to spin, but it's making it fabulous to knit with! So far, no falling apart, and when I was pulling it into smaller sections, if it broke, I just rolled it between my hands a couple of times and PRESTO! it's whole roving again!

The only drawback to this whole process is that there's no hot water plumbed into the laundry room. I'll have to heat water in the teapot to carry to the washer for my felting process. Plus the fact that every time I pull it into pencil roving, I want to grab a spindle! This fiber is just beautiful! I'll have pictures of this experiment later. Right now, I've gotta get my overly-caffinated brain back down to the ground!

Aug 2, 2009

Handspinning Sunday

Superwash merino, 64 ct, Waltzing Matilda colorway, from Enchanted Knoll Farm
Superwash merino and sparkly stuff, Rough Cut Diamonds colorway, from Enchanted Knoll Farm
70% bamboo, 20% firestar sparkles, 10% sari silk. Colorway "Riot", from Butterfly Girl Designs.

The thick and the thin of it all...

Jul 27, 2009

Harry made me do it.

Well, I should NEVER go to see Harry Potter movies. The problem is that I like them too much. They get me thinking about all the little stories I told myself when I was a kid, and all the little stories I told my daughter when she was a kid. See, I happen to think that we ALL have a little magic in us, especially women. It's just that we often forget about it, what with growing up and boyfriends, and husbands, and kids and responsibilities. In fact, I think we have A LOT of magic in us, if we just slow down enough, often enough, to remember it. I've been playing with my sparkly ladybug magic wand these last two days. I'm not so proficient with it and spend a lot of time sparkling things up. Luckily, Celeste knows when to dodge the magic wand sparkles and when they're just sparkles that are falling out of my spinning batts. She's only had sparkles from one or the other on her a couple of times. Both, I might add, are equally magical!

I remember that huff and fluff that was going on in the various churches some years back, when they decided that Harry Potter stories were DANGEROUS to kids and threats to God and the church. I thought it was ridiculous then and I still do. As I was perusing the Harry Potter books on Amazon.com this afternoon, I noticed that right there, among all that printed magic, was a book that warned about the dangers of Wicca to children. Well, I have to say that Harry Potter has nothing to do with Wiccan beliefs. While listening to the hubbub about it, after my sister got kicked out of her church because her kids revealed in Sunday school that they had indeed read ALL the Harry Potter books (gasp!!!), and when I discovered Lynn V. Andrews's books, I did some in-depth digging into the Wiccan religion and investigated. Just call me "Super Sleuth".

Wiccanism's nothing to do with Harry Potter. I have no judgements to proclaim, except to say that I just can't get into it as a religion. It's not for me. It is very interesting, though, and I think that before condemning it, one should know about it.

But anyway, because Harry was so good for me this week and lifted my spirits so immensely, I ran right over to Amazon.com, as I was saying earlier, and looked for some more fun and magical books. I haven't read all of the Potter series, and intend to do so when I get home in September because, you know, those corrupted children in my sister's house have all the stories, PLUS the Spiderwyck series!!! At this point, I think I need to point out that I corrupted my own daughter at an early age with the Wizard of Oz and later, with Magyck (the Septimus Heap series opener), Phillipa Gregory's book The Wise Woman, and Monica Furlong's Wise Child and Juniper. Even later, I turned her on to Diana Gabaldon's Voyager series and she traveled through time in her dreams.

She didn't tumble headlong into Wicca because of it - but she DID name her dog Juniper.

And when my mom was alive, all the women in our family, from age 7 to seventy, stumbled into a magical store in Olde Town in Fort Collins (just to the right of platform 9 1/2) to get a price on a Nimbus 2000 and wands similar to those used in the movies. Luckily for us, they were priced WAY out of our Christmas shopping budget. If they had been more affordable, we might have spent that Christmas zapping one another. Then the Church would probably have sent us all to hell, post haste. Good thing that fate intervened, isn't it?

Back to the search through Amazon.com for a Harry Potter-like magic fix. It turns out that I only glanced through Magyck in a very cursory way and don't remember much, if any, of the story. So I ordered the first two books in the Septimus Heap series, and then pre-ordered the one that's due out in a couple of months. And then I ordered Abby Franquemont's new spindling book, too, due out in December. Sorry, Abby. I didn't order from your website, even though I'd love to have your autograph. The money I saved by not having you sign the book will go towards the shipping costs. Spindling is a magical process in itself.

There. I said it. I admit it. I blew my fiber budget for next month on frivolous magic and IT'S ALL HARRY'S FAULT.

Jul 26, 2009

Tour d' fleece spinning

Here's my last photo of TdF spindling. Rough Cut Diamonds:

This is about 1 ounce of sock weight singles. Unfortunately, I still have 5 ounces to go.

Rough Cut Diamonds is superwash merino with sparkles, from Enchanted Knoll Farm.

Have a drinky-poo

Everywhere on the west coast of Peru, people use the diminutive when they speak. "Quesito?" (A little cheese?) When I was first learning about this phenomenon, I read that it is used to express endearment or cuteness. An example would be "tengo un perrito" (I have a cute little dog). Okay. I could understand that. But typically, I hear things like this: "Aqui estamos en el mercadito. Gaseosita? Solamente cuesta un solcito. Toma esta bebidita. Y carnecita? Come un poquitito y regresamos en la nochecita, amorcito. Llegamos a la casita en un ratito. Y entonces jugamos con tu perrito. Es presiosito!"

I translate this in the most literal way, because that's mostly the way my mind works, and because it makes me laugh. Then later, I go back and think about what the person really was saying. So at first, the Spanish comes into my mind like this:

Here we are in the cute little market. An itty bitty soda pop? It only costs one cute little sol. Have a little drinky-poo. And a little bit of meat? Eat a little bitty bit and we'll go back at nighty-poo, my cute little lovey dovey. We arrive at the housey-poo in a little minute-winute. And then we'll play with your little doggy-poo. It's so cutie-wootie!

Yeah. Makes me laugh and then makes me gag a little bitito. Too much sugar makes me ill.

Sunday

Well, this is the last day of the Tour d' Fleece, and I've definitely bitten off more than I could chew. I managed to complete the Cabaret yarn, and filed a spindle with Rough Cut Diamonds, but only one, and I've got a private English lesson coming at 11, and a correspondence course on the puter that I've got to work on. Wah. I need to learn to stop over-committing and pace myself. I'm a non-finisher. But at least I've got 900 yards of really pretty sparkly yarn for a shawl and matching socks, probably...and the Rough Cut Diamonds is going to be nice, too. I should probably do some housework and laundry, too, before the lessons show up in a couple of hours. This apartment smells like STINKY DOG FEET.

And, I've been reading the Yarn Harlot's blog. She has a troll. Terrible. You may remember that I had a troll of my own a while back. I have sympathy for her, but Steph is lucky in that her troll doesn't personally know her, so cannot personalize her nastiness to the extent that mine did. I think, though, that she will be able to get past the ugliness by not responding to it. Delte all the ugly comments without posting a one, and not responding in any way to the comments or e-mails. I wonder what moves people to be so ugly on line. I wonder why they always feel so justified in their written attacks on others. I've had a lot of time to think about it, and I know that it has to be some kind of mental imbalance. After doing some research, I have learned a lot about Borderline Personality Disorder, and I feel like this fits my previous troll to a T. If you Google this, you will find a wealth of information on it. I can't think about this anymore - it still bothers me - so I'm moving on to another topic.

I went to see Harry Potter and The Half-blood Prince last yesterday afternoon. I loved it! I went kind of apprehensive, because all those child actors are growing up and I wondered how good it might be. I hoped the movie would still have all the charm that the first couple did. And it did. The ending is left open for the continuation, so I imagine that another one will be on the way in the next year or two. No spoilers here. I'll just say thank goodness there was no extended quiddich game. Just a short, quick match to prove the power of the mind.

Jul 18, 2009

names...

So, I'm on my lunch break at work now. I've been thinking about my students a lot lately. Some of their parents are sending them to study here because they want them to travel to the US and have a better life than they could have in Peru. I think they must have always wanted that, because of some of the names they give their kids. I think (and I could be completely wrong about this) that they want them to have good American or English names, so they do their best. For example....

I have a student in Basic 9 this month whose name is Buby (pronounced "Booby"). The poor guy insists that he be called "Moises" (the Spanish version of "Moses"), which is his middle name. I gladly oblige him. I can't imagine waking up with a name like "Booby" every day, either.

I have another student named Rut. I believe it is meant to be Ruth. And there's Grake...Grace? Butsy...Bootie or maybe Betsy? Parents, parents...please check your spelling!

I found out that there was a period of time, about 1960, when in Peru it was illegal to name your child anything except a Biblical name. If it wasn't found in the Spanish version of the bible, it was illegal, and the application for a name would be rejected by the governmental agency for vital statistics. Goodness...talk about control freaks. No wonder there are so many women named Maria and so many men named Jose and Jesus!

Jul 17, 2009

spindling Cabaret




300 yards of Cabaret; superwash merino fingering weight yarn. Only about 1.5 ounces to go.

Jul 12, 2009

Tour d' Fleece, spindling and some excuses

You may have noticed that my posts have been woefully devoid of photos this winter (summer for you up there in the northern hemisphere). Yup. I've been neglecting the camera in favor of spindling. I'm participating in the Tour d' Fleece, spinning my little fingers down to the nubs, but so far I'm just managing to complete the plying on one skein of Cabaret fiber. Wah. My 6-days-a-week job gets in the way of spinning, and what a danged inconvenience it is. I think I'm in a fail situation. I may have to concede that I have set my goals too high. I hope not. I still have another 10 days to go, so it's possible that I could still pull this off.

Even if I don't reach my goals, I'll still come away with some nice yarns, and a bit of space cleared on the shelf for more fiber stash. I'll be able to do some vacation knitting and spinning in September, when I go home to the farm for a month. Hopefully, the pair of laceweight spindles that I ordered will be waiting for me, but I'll take one with me, just in case.

What? What's that you say?? Why, YES! I've bought my plane tickets for vacation! Yeay! O is a little bummed out, because he STILL has not applied for his visa, so he gets to stay home again this year and play with Celeste and do his own laundry. Tut tut. It's his own fault. The Embassy will not give you a visa if you do not ask for one. I tut when I think about it.

And, honestly, I must confess that my camera batteries are dead again. Grrr. Must rectify that when I get groceries sometime this week.

I hope that Peru is about done mourning Michael Jackson. I'm totally over seeing the funeral and the 1980's music videos played over and over every day. You do know that there were only two music videos that Michael Jackson made, don't you? They were Thriller and Billie Jean. At least that's the way it seems here. Nothing else is shown on TV, and on the radio? The Man in the Mirror. Over and over and over. The world was fascinated with Michael Jackson, but I'm ready to let him rest in peace. How about some Nickelback or Everlast, just for a change of pace?

Jul 8, 2009

Birthday weekend

Last week I had a birthday. I celebrate my birthday in a much different style than most people here in Peru. For my birthday, I prefer to forget about parties and have a quiet day. This year, both O and I were working, so there was no party planning on any one's part. O knows I don't go for parties, but his friends are pretty determined to take advantage of any excuse to have a fling. This year, thanks to my job, there was none of that. There was, however, a birthday lunch at some one's house.

Rosa and Flover live in Rimac, which is a very nice part of town, except for the smallish area where they live. Their neighborhood is SCARY. They have no car, and they live a little too far away from the market or the grocery store to walk, so we often give them rides to wherever they need to go. They repay the favors by making lunch occasionally, inviting us to barbecues, parties, and other events. I rarely go, but now it's understood that I just prefer a quieter lifestyle.

Anyway, Rosa insisted on a birthday lunch on the 2nd. Rosa is from the highlands and her taste in food is a little different than mine. My special lunch was actually Rosa's favorite: chanfainita, a typical highland dish.



How does it look? Tasty, right? Chanfainita is stew, made from chopped potatoes and cow's lungs. Now, I know she went to a LOT of effort to prepare this delicacy, but there are just some things that I don't want to eat. Lung tissue is one of those things that I choose not to eat. I think Celeste would enjoy this stew immensely.

Luckily for me, there was plenty of picante sauce and a good bottle of dry red wine. If not for those, I couldn't have managed to eat any of it. Rosa would have been offended and I would have been embarrassed to pieces. So I poured on enough hot sauce to set the house on fire added handfuls of chopped mint, and washed it all down with judicious sips of wine. Everything ended quite well. I didn't ask for seconds, but Rosa felt well pleased.

On Sunday, O and I went to dinner at Club Sullana, where we had a fantastic steak cooked with annato oil and fried yuca and banana slices. Then we went to see "Ice Age 3" and went home.

Jul 6, 2009

Complicated lives

While the US and the rest of the world is mourning the passing of Michael Jackson, Peru is feeling the pain of losing one of their own musical stars, Alicia Delgado. Alicia died last week, murdered at the hands of (supposedly) her chauffeur. It's a complicated tale, which gets more and more complex and twisted as the police dig further into her life.

From what I can gather, Alicia was known as the "Princesa de Folclor" (Princess of Folklore) and was a very popular singer of huayno (Peru's brand of country music.) The story is that she was married and later divorced from her husband, then hooked up with another female huayno singer, Abencia Meza, who later became Alicia's closet lover. After a time of performing together, they decided to come out of the closet. This was complicated by the fact that Alicia also had a male lover, a fact which really torqued Abencia's jaw.

Sooo...last week, Alicia was found, killed by a bullet to the brain. Several people have been arrested, and as the investigation continues, more and more people appear to be implicated, right down to Alicia's own mother, who made it known that if anything were to happen to Alicia, her mother would be able to sell Alicia's apartment for quite a pretty penny. Alicia's chauffeur claims that Abencia paid him to kill Alicia, so it's not his fault and he isn't guilty. Hmmm. That's as far as the things went last night. Maybe the news tonight will reveal still more twists in this confusing story.

Celeste is so confused by this sordid tale that she felt the need to leave a trail of dog food pieces from her bowl to the living room...you know, just in case she can't find her way to bed tonight. Hopefully there are no crows to come behind her and eat her crumbs. She might end up missing her bed and wind up in the witch's cottage deep in the forest, with Hansel and Gretel!

Okay, now I'm the one who's confused. Anyway, here's a Youtube flick of Alicia, and one of Abencia. Don't you just love a good "Whodunit"?



Jun 28, 2009

Hot Off The Spindle


Colorway: Catwoman, from Enchanted Knoll Farm.
Fiber: Superwash merino wool, 64 count.
Handspun on a spindle from Restlesspeasant (Ravelry ID)
Approximately 182 yards of light fingering weight yarn from approximately one ounce of fiber. Still have about 3 ounces left to go!

Jun 24, 2009

Attention deficit

Poor Celeste. These days have been extra hard for her, because it's finals week at work. I have exams to prepare for and exams to administer, then grade. Not too much time for playing, not too much time for long walks or sleeping on THE BED. And, I have been working on the Garden of Alla shawl (in hand-painted alpaca) and spinning some superwash merino, too, so Poor Celeste has been suffering from an extreme deficit of attention from me. Today, while I was grading exams, she let me know how much of a deficit there was. Whenever I reached for an exam, she bumped my arm with her nose. While I was marking the exam, she paced in circles, and then rested her head on my knee.

After finishing the exam grading, I picked up my spindle to ply the merino, and she paced in circles around the spindle. She reached out and grabbed the spindle just long enough to stop it from spinning. Hmmm. She didn't want to go outside, just be the center of attention for the afternoon. I can't afford to give her all my attention till I'm finished with these exams.

Hold on, Celeste! On Friday, I'll be all yours to go walking with, to play with, and to just give you all my undivided attention!

Jun 16, 2009

Protestation, violation, retaliation, and examination

Well, this last week has been interesting!

there has been a growing unrest among the indigenous people of the Amazon region. For years there has been a law protecting the Amazon rainforests and the indigenous people who live there. But within the last year or so, the government of Peru has opened up that area to logging and oil. This decision affects the property and lifestyles of the people who live in this area, and it was done without consulting them or allowing them to vote on it, or to express their opinions in any way. It has led to numerous non-violent protests and roads blocked with stones and people, typical of the way the Peruvian people usually express their disagreement with government actions. But, as I said, unrest has been growing, culminating in a confrontation between the indigenous and national police who were sent to clear a roadblock near Tarapoto. This confrontation resulted in several indigenous people being killed...which in turn led to police in a different area (Bagua) being killed or taken hostage, in retaliation for what happened in Tarapoto. Bloodshed there in Bagua (pronounced Bá-Wa) continued for a week, during which time the leader of the Bagua indigenous faction fled to the Nicaraguan embassy in Lima to avoid arrest.

Last Thursday, the protestors followed their leader to Lima and staged a protest on Abancay Avenue, where the Ministry of the Interior is located, as well as being just half a block from where I work. The police were prepared, but none of the local people were aware of what was going to happen until it happened. About 3:30 in the afternoon, hundreds of university students and indigenous people marched on Abancay Avenue, armed with clubs, steel pipes, and 2 x 4s, waving flags and banners, and makng a huge racket with horns, pipes, loud speakers, and the like. I was in my classroom and couldn't hear what my students were trying to say.

Then something went awry and the protest turned violent. Police reacted by shooting tear gas into the crowds and chasing a good number down to the middle of the block (where I work!) with gas bombs. Although the steel doors on our building were closed and the windows were closed to the second floor, gas still managed to enter the building. Between the noise and the effects of the gas, classes had to be temporarily stopped. And, heh, I had one student who just couldn't resist opening a window and sticking his head out to see the spectacle. He got a good doses of tear gas.

Oddly, I wasn't affected by the gas. I had several students who complained of sore throats and itchy eyes. I didn't feel anything. Huh. Musta been all those years of gas mask training in the Air Force, with real tear gas. We were locked down for about an hour, then students were allowed to go home out the back way, to avoid the remnents of the protest.

And then, on Saturday, I had to take an English proficiency exam provided to the institute by the University of Michigan. I'm not sure how I did, although it seemed to be to easy to be real, for me. I wonder if this will benefit me in some way. Every ICPNA instructor has to take the exam and pass it, but what will it do for me in the future? Nothing, probably. English is my first language, and at my age, I expect that I should be proficient in it.

All last week, I had substitutions. I'm not sure what was happening...maybe everyone was sick? I don't know, but I had 10 hours of work every day. Love the extra money, but the hours really sucked. Wah.

Jun 7, 2009

After a long pause...

...I'm back. I've been swamped, then run down, and consequentially got sick. Now I'm back on my feet again, and although still swamped with work, not sick anymore. I apologise for the tardiness in posting and meeting my commitments, but rest assured that I am back in commission and in gear once again.

See you on Monday!

May 18, 2009

An Afternoon with Celeste

Oh Mom, I'm so bored. Can't we play? No, not the camera.

Really. I'm serious. Listen to me. I W A N T T O P L A Y. Should I speak more slowly? No, not the camera. I didn't say get the camera. I said I want to play. P L A Y.
This is my best side. If you have to snap that photo, get this side.
While I'm chewing my toy? Is there no privacy around here?
Can we go outside? O U T S I D E. Can you say "OUTSIDE?" Okay. Let's try this: "vamos fuera de la casa." V A M O S. Better? Sheesh. You just never know with people. Could be one language, or it could be another. YEAY! You got it! You understand! I'll get my leash! Mom, you're a good girl!

Oh just in case...Buena chica. Eres una buena chica. (Ya gotta cover all the language bases in this apartment.)

...and we have winners!

So, I had to get Celeste to help me with the drawing. I had three drawings - one for the mitts, one for the yarn, and one for the fiber. I put the names for each drawing in a bowl and let Celeste stick her COLD, WET NOSE in the bowl. The name(s) that stuck to her nose were the winners. The first time we did it, she ate all the names (sorry about that), so we had to re-draw. For the yarn, two names stuck to her nose, so I will honor that.

Fiber: Iron Needles

Yarn: Jude
Kim

The mitts: KitKatKnits

Please send an e-mail with your mailing address to fuzzknitterATyahooDOTcom so I can get your loot to you.

May 15, 2009

fruits from the tropics

Here in Peru, we have fruits that I've never heard of anywhere else in the world. For example, chirimoya. It's often called Guanabana, too. The flavor is kind of like tootie-fruitie, and it makes a great sorbet.



Maracuyá is another fruit that I've not heard of outside of Peru, either. It has a sweet and sour flavor and is popular in ice creams, sorbets, and drinks.

We love both these fruits for breakfast! They are quite common in this area, along with giant mangoes and avocados. I'll be looking for some other unique fruits and veggies from around here, too.

Sunday's the last day!

Wow! Thank you for all the responses! The last day to enter your comments will be Sunday, May 17th. Then I'll have a drawing for names and post the winners here on the blog. Good luck!

May 13, 2009

The Loot


Handspun, handknit beaded fingerless mitts in superwash merino.

3 ounces of soft black merino, gold bamboo, and sparkly stuff.
100% alpaca yarn, mill-spun, approximately 250 yards per skein. Three skeins.

OMG, or It's a giveaway!

OMG! We've surpassed 15,000 visits here at A Bag of Olives! Time for a giveaway! I'll take the pictures of the prize and get them up this afternoon (hopefully. You know me...always on the late side. But this IS Peru, after all. We are always fashionably and frustratingly and irritatingly late.)

You will have your choice between 3 ounces of merino/bamboo/sparkle spinning fiber, a couple of skeins of lovely mill-spun 100% alpaca yarn (enough for a pair of socks, and have some left over!), or a pair of beaded handspun, handknit fingerless mitts (superwash merino) in fun colors. To enter, just post a comment and let me know your preference.

May 12, 2009

June's socks

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Pixie pick-up stix in action! They work pretty well, but I suspect that these are not the genuine PPS, because the finish on a few of them is terrible. I need to take the sand paper to them for a snag-free knitting experience.

May 11, 2009

Cabaret spun up (mostly)

Here are the pictures of Cabaret, posing in her colorful glory: (click a photo to enlarge it)